Amin Maalouf, poet

amin-maaloufBorn in Beirut in 1949, Amin Maalouf has lived in France since 1976. After studying sociology and economics, Maalouf joined the Lebanese daily An-Nahar, for which he travelled the world covering numerous events, from the fall of the Ethiopian monarchy to the last battle of Saigon. Forced to emigrate by the war in Lebanon, he settled in Paris, where he resumed journalism, and from where he started to travel again, from Mozambique to Iran and from Argentina to the Balkans. He became editor of the international edition of An-Nahar, then editor-in-chief of the weekly Jeune Afrique, before giving up all his posts to dedicate himself to literature.

His literary work, written in French, is today translated into more than 40 languages. It includes novels, essays and opera librettos, notably:

  • The Crusades through Arab Eyes. First English language edition in 1985. Originally published as Les Croisades vues par les Arabes, 1983.
  • Leo Africanus (US edition) or Leo the African (UK edition). Originally published as Léon l’Africain, 1986.
  • Samarkand. Originally published as Samarcande, 1988.
  • The Gardens of Light. Originally published as Les Jardins de lumière, 1991.
  • The First Century after Beatrice. Originally published as Le Premier siècle après Béatrice, 1992.
  • The Rock of Tanios. Originally published as Le Rocher de Tanios, 1993, winner of the Prix Goncourt.
  • Ports of Call. Originally published as Les Echelles du Levant, 1996.
  • In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong (US edition), or On Identity (UK edition). Originally published as Les identités meurtrières, 1998.
  • Balthasar’s Odyssey. Originally published as Le Périple de Baldassare, 2000.
  • Love from Afar (libretto, music composed by Kaija Saariaho, first performed at the 2000 Salzburg Festival, directed by Peter Sellars). Originally published as l’Amour de loin, 2001.
  • Origins: a Memoir. Originally published as Origines, 2004.
  • Adriana Mater (libretto, music composed by Kaija Saariaho, first performed in 2006 at the Opéra Bastille, directed by Peter Sellars).
  • Le Dérèglement du monde (2009)

In 2007-2008, at the European Commission’s request, Amin Maalouf chaired a think tank on multilingualism. A report was produced, titled A Rewarding Challenge: how the multiplicity of languages could strengthen Europe.

Maalouf has been awarded honorary doctorates by the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), the American University of Beirut (Lebanon), the University of Tarragona Rovira i Virgili (Spain) and the University of Evora (Portugal).